Frequently Asked Questions Of The Attorney General

Complaints and Forms

Car

Housing

Health

Consumer Frauds & Protections

Charities

Investment

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  1. Question:

    I received a bill for services that I never ordered. It was actually a solicitation. Is it legal?

    Answer:

    An advertising solicitation which is designed to look like a bill or invoice cannot be sent to consumers unless it contains the following conspicuous disclosure:

    "This is a solicitation for the order of goods or services and not a bill, invoice or statement of account due. You are under no obligation to make any payments on account of this offer, unless you accept this offer."

  2. Question:

    I believe that I am the victim of age discrimination. What should I do?

    Answer:

    Senior citizens who feel they are victims of age discrimination may file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights by calling (518) 474-2705. Seniors may also file a complaint with the Attorney General's Civil Rights Bureau in New York City by calling (212) 416-8240.

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  3. Question:

    I own an automobile which was manufactured seven years ago. The automobile is in need of repair, but the part needed for the repair is no longer available from the dealer or the manufacturer. Are manufacturers legally required to supply repair parts for a certain period of time?

    Answer:

    Manufacturers are only obligated to supply repair parts for the duration of any applicable warranty. Once the warranty expires, however, the vehicle owner bears the burden of finding suitable replacement parts.

    Consumer Tip:

    Discuss the availability of parts with the dealer or manufacturer in advance of a purchase and get all promises regarding availability of parts in writing.

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  4. Question: I purchased what I believed to be a new car only to learn after the sale that, prior to the sale, the dealer had removed the trunk lid, replaced it with a damaged lid and repaired the damaged lid. Am I entitled to cancel the contract and receive a refund?

    S.T., EAST SYRACUSE, NEW YORK

    Answer: General Business Law § 396-p(5) requires that, prior to the sale and delivery of a new car, a retail dealer provide written notification to the consumer of any physical damage repairs with a retail value in excess of five percent of the manufacturer's or distributor's suggested retail price performed after shipment from the manufacturer to the dealer. The dollar amount of the repair includes the cost of the retail charge for parts and labor, at the dealer's stated labor rate. If the dealer provides notice of repairs, the consumer may cancel the purchase order and receive a refund of the deposit. If the dealer does not notify the consumer of prior repairs, the consumer is entitled to a full refund of the purchase price, any trade-in allowance plus fees and charges within four months after the date of purchase.

    Consumer Tip:

    If the dealer does not provide notice of repairs and refuses to make a refund, you should obtain at least one estimate from an independent body shop as to the amount of damage as soon as you become aware of the problem. If the estimate exceeds five percent of the suggested retail price, you should present this evidence to the dealer and demand a refund under § 396-p(5). If the dealer still refuses to make a refund, file a complaint with the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, which will attempt to resolve the problem through mediation or, if a pattern of complaints exists against the dealer, by legal action. You may also wish to consult with a private attorney to discuss the availability of other rights and remedies.

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  5. Question: After purchasing a used car, another dealer told me that I had paid over the book value. Was it legal for the dealer to charge more than the book value? JB, Delmar, NY

    Answer: Book values are only averages that vary depending on the mileage and options and vary from one locale to the next. Typically they are broken out into wholesale, retail and average trade-in price. Purchase prices as well as rates of interest and warranties beyond the State minimum are subject to negotiation prior to purchase. It is important that consumers shop different dealerships to gain a sense of the average asking price for cars similar to the one they are interested in purchasing, prior to signing the contract.

    Consumer Tip:

    Make notes during the sales presentation and be certain that all verbal promises are written on the contract. Read the contract carefully before signing. Take your time reading the contract, and Question any language you do not understand. Do not let the salesperson rush you. Before leasing an automobile, read the Attorney General's "Tip Sheet" on automobile leases.

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  6. Question:

    I am thinking about building a new one-family home, or adding an extension on to my current residence, in order to meet my family's need for additional living space. If I give the builder a down payment, is he legally required to hold that money in an escrow account until the new house is completed or the renovation is completed?

    Answer:

    If you decide to build a new home, the builder is not required to deposit your down payment in an escrow account unless you already own the lot on which the home is to be built, or unless the town, village or city in which the home is to be constructed requires an escrow. If you do not own the lot and an escrow is not required by the municipality, the builder is not required to deposit the funds in escrow, but you have the option of requiring an escrow. In this situation, the contract with the builder must contain a notice informing you of your right to require an escrow. The notice itself, however, does not require the builder to escrow your deposit. You must exercise your option by including specific language in the contract requiring the builder to deposit in escrow. Should you decide instead to add on to your existing home, the builder is required to deposit all payments received prior to completion in escrow. If you decide to purchase an existing, previously occupied home, the down payment must be placed in escrow by the escrow agent only if required by the contract.

    Consumer Tip:

    As with all contracts, it is prudent to read a real estate contract before signing and to consult with an attorney as needed. If you don't own the lot, check with your local officials for any escrow requirements. If an escrow is not required, consider exercising your option by specifically writing it into the contract. Do not rely on the option notice in the contract. If an escrow is required, the builder must provide you with the name of the bank within ten days after the deposit has been made.

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  7. Question:

    I have been asked to contribute to a charity but I am not exactly sure what the charity will do with my contribution. Am I entitled to receive the organization's financial reports? How can I get information about the charity?
    L.S.K., Plattsburgh, New York

    Answer:

    Before making a contribution to a charitable organization, you should find out as much as possible about the organization's programs and what they will do with the contribution. Most charitable organizations that are conducting worthwhile programs should be happy to provide you with such information about thei programs and their finances. In addition, both New York's Executive Law (Article 7-A) and the Internal Revenue Code require most charitable organization that solicit your contribution to provide you with a copy of their latest financial report. Following are some other tips that you may wish to follow when you consider making a contribution:
    *Ask what proportion of money contributer actually goes to support the charity's program and what proportion goes to administrative costs.
    *Charities do have legitimate and necessary fundraising and administrative expenses, so beware of claims such as "all proceeds will go to charity."
    *Ask if your contribution is tax deductible.
    If you decide to contribute, give your contribution by check made payable to the charity.

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  8. Question: Are charities required to spend a certain amount of their income on their programs? When they ask me for a contribution, are they required to tell me how they spend their money?

    P.K, Troy, New York

    Answer: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that state laws may not require that a charity spend a specific amount or percent of its funds on its charitable programs. However, as New Yorkers donate their hard-earned money to charity, there are several steps they may take to make sure that their contributions will be used wisely and efficiently. Contributors should follow these tips before contributing to charity:
    * Ask to see the organization's financial report to see how its money is spent.
    * Visit my Web Site - www.ag.ny.gov - on which are posted "Pennies for Charities" and "Where the Money Goes," reports that contain financial data of thousands of organizations that solicit contributions from New Yorkers. Hard copies are also available.
    * Contact one of the "watchdog" agencies that monitor the activities of charities and set standards for their operation:

    The National Charities
    Information Bureau
    19 Union Square West
    New York, NY 10003
    (212) 929-6300
    Better Business Bureaus

    Philanthropic Advisory Service
    4200 Wilson Boulevard - Suite 800
    Arlington, VA 22203-1804
    (703) 276-0100
    Better Business Bureau

    Philanthropic Advisory Service
    257 Park Avenue South
    New York, NY 10010-7384
    (212) 533-7500
    Better Business Bureau

    * Contact the AG's office to see if the organization is registered and what financial information it has filed.

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  9. Question:

    Someone has sent to me an e-mail image of child pornography. I don't have a clue who this person is and why this was sent to me. I hope you can do something. K.S., Saugerties

    Answer:

    For more than two years, the Attorney General's office has investigated child pornography on the Internet. This is just one of the initiatives of the Internet Bureau which also monitors the Internet for evidence of consumer scams and other crimes. Anyone who suspects suspicious behavior on the Internet can report it to the Attorney General's office by visiting the website at http://www.ag.ny.gov.

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  10. Question:

    What is the procedure for making a complaint regarding securities fraud with the Attorney General’s Office?

    Answer :

    Your complaint must be received in writing. You must send a letter that explains all the details of your complaint. A complaint form is available. Please attach all copies of supporting documentation. List all of the information that we will need to resolve your complaint as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

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    Question:

    What can be expected after a complaint has been made?

    Answer:

    After your complaint has been received by the Investor Protection and Securities Bureau, it will be reviewed and assigned to an Attorney or an appropriate representative to investigate your complaint. If it is determined that your complaint should be handled by a different Bureau or agency, the securities bureau will forward your complaint to the appropriate office and you will be informed of the decision.

    Please note that the Bureau cannot represent individuals in private matters; instead we investigate and prosecute fraud on behalf of the public at large where we suspect a pattern of fraud affecting many investors.

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    Question:

    Where should I send my complaint?

    Answer:

    Please address your complaint to the Investor Protection and Securities Bureau Chief. Mail your complaint to: New York State Department of Law Office of the Attorney General, Investor Protection and Securities Bureau, 120 Broadway, 23 floor, New York, NY 10271. You may also fax your complaint to this office. The fax number for our bureau is (212) 416-8816, attention Bureau Chief.

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    Question:

    How can I check to see if a broker or an issuer has a license to do business in New York State? How can I review their background?

    Answer:

    You may get basic information over the phone by calling the Securities Bureau’s Record Department. The staff can only give basic answers, such as a salesperson’s employment history, exams/series taken and yes/no answers to confirm any disciplinary history.

    Under the State Freedom of Information Law, most files maintained by this Bureau are available for your review. You may also obtain copies of information contained in our files. The first five copies are free with a fee of twenty-five cents ($0.25) per page thereafter.

    If you are requesting a printout of any record maintained in the securities bureau, such as a disciplinary history, a CRD report or to inquire about complaints against a company or an individual you plan to do business, please write to this office. Address your request to Investor Protection and Securities Bureau Chief, NYS Department of Law Office of the Attorney General, Investor Protection and Securities Bureau, 120 Broadway, 23 floor, New York, NY 10271. You may also fax your request to this office. Our fax number is (212) 416-8816.

    Please note, all records or some portions of records maintained by this Bureau may not be disclosed. If the information you are requesting is confidential, or if it is an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, your request may be denied

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  11. Question:

    Does the Bureau provide information on the value of old stocks or if the company still exists?

    Answer:

    No, please contact the New York State Secretary of State.

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  12. Question:

    I received a notice from my bank indicating that certain changes were being made in the terms of my credit card account. One of the changes appears to relate to the amount of the finance charge, although the size of the print contained throughout the notice was very small and extremely difficult to read. Is this legal and, if not, what can I do? Suppose I don't agree with the changes? M.J., WAPPINGERS FALLS, NY

    Answer:

    New York State law requires that the printed portion of every credit card agreement be in at least eight-point type. In addition, any change in the terms of the agreement must be clearly and conspicuously described in writing and must be mailed or delivered to the cardholder at least 30 days prior to the effective date in order to be valid.

    If the change has the effect of increasing the finance or service charge, the written notice must include a statement that either (a) the incurring of further charges on or after the effective date of the change stated in the notice constitutes acceptance of the change, or (b) that the cardholder has thirty days to advise the credit card company that he or she does not accept the changes. If the company fails to comply with the statute, the credit card holder has the right to recover the finance charge imposed as a result of the change and the amount of any delinquency, collection, extension, deferral or refinance charge imposed.

    The credit card company, however, has ten days after receipt of written notice from the cardholder to correct any errors in the notice. If the correction is timely made, the cardholder cannot recover any of the charges.

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  13. Question: For a couple of months my credit card billing statement had contained a charge I did not recognize. I contacted my credit card company and was told that they had offered me some kind of insurance and it was up to me to call them and tell them I did not want it. Is this practice legal?

    A.D., Saratoga Springs, NY

    Answer: The practice you describe would not be legal. Every binding contract requires an "acceptance" as well as an "offer." Your failure to notify the credit card company that you do not want insurance would not constitute an "acceptance." It is common for a credit card company to offer consumers free insurance coverage for a few months, but require that the consumer cancel the coverage in order to avoid being charged once the free coverage period lapses. If the consumer were to accept this arrangement, they would be obligated to pay charges which incur after the free coverage period ends, unless the consumer cancels the coverage in accordance with their agreement.

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  14. Question:

    I signed a contract with a dating service, but changed my mind the next day and sent them notice immediately. Are they required to give me a refund? J.M. Slingerlands, NY

    Answer:

    Yes. New York State law requires dating services to give their customers a three-day "cooling off" period within which to cancel a contract. If you sent your cancellation notice by certified mail within three days of signing the contract, they must give you a full refund.

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  15. Question:

    In setting up a payment schedule for a delinquent debt, can a consumer refuse to deal with a collection agency and demand instead to deal directly with the creditor?

    Answer:

    Yes. Under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, a consumer has the right to notify the debt collector to cease all communication with the consumer. The consumer may then communicate directly with the creditor. The notice to the collection agency must be in writing. Upon receipt of the notice, the debt collector is prohibited from communicating with the consumer, except to advise the consumer that the agency's collection activities are being terminated, or to notify the consumer that the agency or the creditor may invoke specified remedies.

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  16. Question:

    My upstairs tenant is three months behind in his rent. While I have tried to be patient with him, I am at the point where I think it would be best to evict him. How can this be done in full compliance of the law?

    Answer: Following appropriate notice, you may bring a summary non-payment court proceeding to evict your tenant. Only a sheriff, marshal or constable can carry out a court ordered warrant to evict a tenant. You cannot take the law into your own hands and evict a tenant by threats, use of force, changing the locks, or any other unlawful means. A tenant who is put out of his or her apartment in a forcible or unlawful manner is entitled to recover triple damages.

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  17. Question: I received what looked like a notice that I had won $7,500 in cash as a result of my name being entered into a national sweepstakes. Upon closer inspection, I realized that I had not actually won anything yet, but, by calling the "900" telephone number listed on the letter, at a rate of almost $4 a minute, I could have my name entered in a drawing. On the back of the letter in small print, was a disclosure of odds, which informed me that the odds of winning one dollar or more was one in 5 million. Is it legal to send this type of letter.

    R.L., Brooklyn

    Answer: While it is illegal to send a solicitation in the mail which is misleading to consumers, a sweepstakes promotion might be legal if it clearly sets forth the terms of the sweepstakes and hidden costs. The following tips should help you avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent sweepstakes promotions:

    * Always read the rules and odds;
    * Always read the fine print;
    * Never give out your credit card number, checking account number or social security number to a company you don't know;
    * Never pay money up front. It is illegal for sweepstakes or prize promotions to require the consumer to make a purchase, in order to collect a prize;
    * Never call a 900 number or non-toll free 800 number to collect a "prize;"
    Never give in to a sweepstakes or prize promotion that asks you to "act immediately."

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  18. Question:

    I'd like to file a complaint in regards to an attorney I retained. Where can I do this? W.A.V., Ballston Spa, New York

    Answer:

    If you wish to file a complaint involving an attorney, you may contact:
     

    Committee on Professional Standards
    Third Judicial Department
    A.E. Smith State Office Bldg., 22nd Floor
    P.O. Box 7013, Capitol Station Annex
    Albany, New York 12224

    They can also be contacted by calling (518) 474-8816.

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  19. Question:

    What applications must I file to register or renew the prospectus of a franchise?

    Answer:

    See Franchise and Business Opportunities Section

    Question:

    What are the fees?

    Answer:

    The fee for filing an initial prospectus is: $750, thereafter, a franchisor’s filing fee is $150 for an amendment/renewal of the prospectus, which must be submitted within 120 days of the franchisor’s fiscal year. Checks must be drawn on U.S. Banks, and must be payable to the New York State Department of Law.

    The fee for filing a Consent to Service of Process (UFRA-D) is: $35 to be filed with the NYS Department of State, Division of Corporation, Second Floor, 41 State Street, Albany, NY 11231.

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    Question:

    To whom and where should I send my franchise application:

    Answer:

    Please send the franchise application:

     

    Attention: Barbara Lasoff
    New York State Department of Law
    Office of the Attorney General
    Investor Protection & Securities Bureau
    120 Broadway, 23rd Floor
    New York, NY 10271
  20. Question:

    I made reservations for a cruise aboard an ocean liner and paid the full price months in advance of the scheduled date of departure. Just before departure, the cruise line canceled my reservation due to the overbooking and offered me a full refund and a free cruise the following year. Is it legal for a cruise line to bump customers after reservations have been confirms and all monies have been paid? What can be done to prevent this from happening in the future?

    Answer:

    There are no federal or state laws prohibiting an ocean liner form bumping passengers due to over booking. Whether or not this permissible depends on the terms of the contract between the cruise ship and the passenger,which is referred to as the "passage contract". Many contract contain provisions other than the following to refund the passenger's money. If you are bumped, a prompt refund of your money is should be made. If the entire cruise line is canceled, your deposit is protected under federal law. The cruise line is required to post a performance bond with the Federal maritime Commission to assure the return of passengers' deposits. If the company does not make a refund, passengers may make a claim under the bond, which is usually issued by an insurance company.

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  21. Question:

    Recently I had blood work done at what appeared to be an independent lab in the same building as my doctor. Later, when I received my bill, I found it was part of a local hospital. Although they "participated" in my insurance plan, I was billed for a $25 co-pay instead of the $8 I expected. My calls to the billing office met with an unsatisfactory response. What can I do?

    Answer:

    Today, we are finding many hospitals running labs and outpatient facilities in locations away from the actual hospital building. It is easy to understand why it may be difficult to distinguish them from non-hospital medical providers. Further, many health providers may indeed "be participating" in various insurance plans, but determining the exact cost to use that particular provider's services is difficult. Always ask if the facility bills as a hospital or a lab and what the difference in the cost is to you. Additionally, most insurance plans provide by contract for a formal appeal process, often up to 60 days after the date of the billing. Take advantage of this opportunity to contest the billing in writing.

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  22. Question:

    I am in need of having some home improvement work done on my house. Can you please give me some direction as to where I can go to verify whether or not a contractor is reputable before I sign a contract and pay a deposit.

    Answer:

    The Attorney General's office strongly recommends that you check the reputation of a home improvement contractor before signing on the dotted line. To do that, you should always ask a contractor for references and make sure you contact those references. Also, check with the Attorney General's office, your local consumer agency and Better Business Bureau. Frequently, many counties require home improvement contractors to be licensed and maintain a restitution fund to reimburse homeowners who have been victimized by unscrupulous contractors. For that information, you may contact the town or county clerk's office. Finally, to learn whether any legal actions have been brought against a contractor, you can call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at 1-800-771-7755. Even if your search turns up no adverse information, you should avoid paying large sums of money up-front, and instead pay in installments until the work is complete. Contractor Tip Card

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  23. Question:

    I'm in the middle of a payment dispute with my HMO. What are my options to resolve it? A.F., Utica, N.Y.

    Answer:

    There are two ways to challenge a decision or practice of your plan. Utilization review allows patients to question the plan's decision to deny a benefit based on lack of "medical necessity." Internal grievance procedures, which are mandatory only for HMOs, allow a review of complaints regarding all other types of care. The plan must inform you how to use the appropriate procedure, how long the process will take, and your right to have someone represent you. You also have the right to appeal the reviewer's findings to another plan official. For more information on your healthcare rights, call the Attorney General's healthcare Bureau at 800-771-7755 option #3.

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  24. Question:

    Can you please explain what is meant by the term "implied warranty?"

    Answer:

    Many products are sold with "express warranties" or "written warranties" which are provided by the product manufacturer. If your purchase does not come with a written warranty, it is still covered by implied warranties unless the product is sold "as is." Implied warranties are provided by law and not by the manufacturer or seller. The most common type of implied warranty is the "warranty of merchantability" which means simply that a product is supposed to do what its supposed to do. The second type is a warranty of "fitness for a particular purchase." For instance if you rely on a sellers' advice that a sleeping bag is recommended for sub-zero temperatures, then an implied warranty of fitness for sub-zero temperatures is created.

    Consumer Tip:

    Implied warranties come automatically with every sale, even though they are not written out.

  25. Question:

    Can a landlord impose a late fee if the monthly rent is not paid by the first of the month?

    Answer:

    A landlord may impose a late fee on installments of rent from the time they become due. This is true whether the lease is written or oral. Most standard lease agreements contain a provision that states when the rent is due and the fee that will be imposed if the payment is not made on time.

    A provision such as this is enforceable provided it is not disproportionate to the amount of harm caused to the landlord by the late receipt of the rent. For example, courts have not allowed a late fee of $50 to be imposed on a late monthly rent of $405, because the late fee was considered disproportionate and characterized as a penalty. The law does not allow a landlord to impose a penalty for late rent. The imposition of a late fee in rental units which are subject to regulation under the various rent control or rent regulation statutes may be subject to specific limitations.

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  26. Question:

    How do I know if a charity which solicits me for donations is legitimate?

    Answer:

    My office can tell you whether a charity is registered, whether they employ a professional fundraiser and what percentage of donations goes to fundraisers and to the charity. A study by my staff has found less than 40 percent of money raised by charitable fundraisers goes to the actual charity. The majority of professional fundraisers keep for themselves the lion's share of the money they collect.

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  27. Question:I rented a vehicle outside N.Y. which was stolen and subsequently crashed. I thought that I was liable for only $100 of the damages. V.W., Far Rockaway, NY

    Answer: New York law limits your liability only if you rented the vehicle in N.Y. However, if you have insurance or if you are covered under another person's policy, you may be covered. Remember, there are always exceptions to coverage if, for example, the authorized driver is intoxicated or committing a criminal act that caused the damage.

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  28. Question: I have received a number of telemarketing calls which appear to have been placed by the telemarketer's use of an automatic dialing system. Is the use of this type of telephone dialer legal in New York State? Also are there any limits to the time of day when such calls can be placed? Is there anyway to have these types of calls stopped?

    T.H., La Grangeville, NY

    Answer: There are both federal and state statutes which govern the use of sequential or automatic dialing systems. When calling a residential telephone line, an automatic dialing system cannot be used if it is combined with an artificial or prerecorded voice unless; 1) there is prior consent of the called party; 2) the call is instituted for emergency purposes; 3) the call is made by a nonprofit organization; 4) there exists an established business relationship. In addition, an automatic dialing system also cannot be used to call any service where the called party is charged for the call, such as a cellular phone. Further, within the U.S. it is unlawful for any person to use an automatic dialer or an artificial prerecorded voice when calling an emergency telephone line, a guest room or patient room in a hospital, a healthcare facility, an elderly home or a similar establishment. There are limits as to what time of day telemarketing calls can be made. Calling before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. is illegal. At the beginning of the call, the nature of the call must be stated, as well as whose behalf the call is being made. As a consumer you have the right to be taken off the calling list. To have your name removed from the list, you can write to Telephone Preference Service, P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, New York 11735-9014.

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  29. Question:

    I opened my telephone bill and found that my long distance carrier had been changed without my permission. How did this happen?

    Answer:

    Local telephone companies control the machinery that assigns long distance carriers to telephone lines. Current federal regulations allow a local telephone company to switch a customer's chosen long distance carrier just on the say so of a different long distance carrier. Of course, the new carrier is required to have the customer's permission before asking for a switch. However, the AG's office has already sued two long distance carriers for sending switch orders without the customer's consent, a practice called "slamming." We are investigating several other carriers for slamming.

    Consumer Tip:

    Consumers can protect themselves from slamming by asking their local telephone company to "freeze" their long distance carrier choice. "Freezing" your carrier choice means that your local telephone company must confirm a carrier change request with you before making the switch.

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  30. Question: I recently tried to write a check for a purchase in a department store. I showed my driver's license and Visa card and wrote my work phone number on the check. The store, however, stated that they would not accept the check unless I wrote down my home phone number. I was concerned with my security and left the store. Can a seller condition acceptance of a check upon disclosure of the buyers home telephone number?

    CJ, Scotia, NY

    Answer: There is no law which prohibits a seller from requiring disclosure of home telephone numbers on a check as a condition of acceptance. Sellers are, however, prohibited from requiring the disclosure of a Social Security number as a condition of acceptance. Sellers are also prohibited from writing a buyer's credit card number on a check, although the seller may require the buyer to display the card as a means of identification.

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  31. Question:

    My family and I are fortunate to live in what would be considered a "safe" community. Nevertheless, as a parent of two small children, I am interested in learning more about "Megan's Law."

    Answer:

    No matter how apparently safe, no community is necessarily immune from the pariah we call child molesters. That's precisely why "Megan's Law" was created. Under this important new law, convicted sex offenders must now provide detailed information, including their addresses, to a central registry. New Yorkers can also access this information at their local police department, which will keep a book of offenders -- and their mugshots -- on the premises.

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  32. Question:

    I have a major long-distance company as my carrier. In my last phone bill, I received a charge for some telephone company that I had never heard of for a call to a 900 number. How can I be billed by a long distance company that I did not choose?

    Answer:

    Unfortunately, there are many ways by which you can be charged by a long-distance company that's not of your choosing. For example, calls to 900 numbers are billed by the long-distance company that owns the number, the business that leases the number or a billing company that works for the businesses that leases the number. Check your telephone bill carefully as soon as you get it each month. Look for bills from phone companies that you have never heard of, and contact your phone company to protest any charges for calls that you didn't make, or that you don't agree with.

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  33. Question:

    I recently wrote a check that bounced. My bank charged my account a penalty. When I went back to the store to pay the face value of the check, they also wanted me to pay a penalty. Do I have to pay a service charge at the store as well as at the bank?

    Answer:

    Yes, you may have to pay a service charge at the store that cashed your check, in addition to your own bank's store charge. The bank charges your account a fee because of the extra effort involved in processing a check drawn on insufficient funds. There is also the risk that if the bank pays the check with funds of their own, they may never recover those funds. Because the store's bank charges the store's account a service charge to process your bad check, the law provides that a store is allowed to charge a service fee. In this way, the store is able to recover the money that its own bank charged. As a limitation on the store's ability to charge exorbitant fees, the law provides that this fee cannot exceed $20.

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  34. Question:

    I purchased a puppy from a dealer and within two weeks she became critically ill and died. I feel that the pet shop should reimburse me for the cost of veterinary bills incurred trying to save the puppy's life as well as the purchase price. Is this my legal right?

    Answer:

    The so-called "Pet Lemon Law" provides that if within 14 days of purchase, a veterinarian certifies that the animal was "unfit" due to "illness, congenial malformation or infectious disease," the pet dealer must offer the consumer the right to choose one of the following options:

    (a) the right to return the animal and receive a refund of the purchase price and reasonable veterinary costs related to the certification that the animal was unfit;
    (b) the right to return the animal and receive an exchange animal of the consumer's choice and veterinary costs related to the certification; or
    (c) the right to keep the animal and receive reimbursement of the veterinary services for the purpose of attempting to cure the animal.

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  35. Question:

    What are the differences between a legitimate multi-level marketing company and a pyramid scheme?

    Answer:

    A legitimate multi-level marketing company emphasizes reliable products or services. A pyramid scheme uses products or services to disguise its quest for collecting money from the investors on the bottom levels to pay other investors further up the pyramid.

    In a typical pyramid scheme, new investors must pay a fee for the right to sell the products or services as well as for the right to recruit others into the pyramid for rewards unrelated to products sales or services. Very often the products or services the victim must buy are unsalable, and the pyramid’s promoters refuse to repurchase them. On the other hand, legitimate multi-level marketings companies will buy back unsold merchandise, although often at a discount from the original price.

    Success in multi-level marketing is based on two factors: product and service quality, and the hard work involved in being able to sell the products or services. Recruitment of new investors is secondary.

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  36. Question:

    While browsing around the World Wide Web on my home computer the other night, I found a home page of a company touting "inside information" for what was described as "fantastic investment opportunities." The company expects huge demand for a product now in their development pipeline. It was very tempting. What do you think?

    Answer:

    Do not -- repeat -- do not take the plunge. This type of hard-sell enticement should be viewed as a red flag. Watch for investment opportunities based on so-called insider information. Insider trading is illegal. By the way, when traveling the Internet, never give out bank account numbers, social security numbers or dates of birth. Another caution: Beware of "cyber- pals" who tell you about a great product or service. Your new buddies may be making money by convincing people to buy. And do your homework. Some "work at home" opportunities only make money for the organizers. And always remember that reputable businesses making legitimate offers seldom require you to make an on the spot decision.

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  37. Question:

    Can I request a Central Registration Depository (CRD) report on my broker/dealer or sales agent?

    Answer:

    Yes, please contact the National Association of Securities Dealers Regulation, Inc. (NASD) is now merged with the SEC and called FINRA.

    BrokerCheck Foyer

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  39. Question:

    In August of 1996, I tried to rent a car from five different rental companies and they all told me no, not without a credit card. I believe that there was a law passed help New York residents without credit cards rent cars.

    Answer:

    In 1980, the General Business Law was amended prohibiting auto rental companies from refusing to rent a vehicle to a New York resident without a credit card. Companies may, however, impose other lawful requirements on a renter without a credit card, such as a deposit. In addition, rental agencies may not discriminate on the basis of age, as long as the applicant is 18 years old or older and insurance coverage is available. Finally, auto rental companies may not discriminate based on the race, color, ethnic origin or sex of the prospective renter.

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  40. Question:

    I live out of state and plan on renting a car from a rental agency in New York while in the state. Am I required to purchase insurance from the agency if my insurance policy already provides coverage for rented vehicles? Also, if I damage the vehicle, am I obligated to pay rent for the period of time the automobile is unavailable because of the damage?

    Answer:

    You are not required to purchase insurance coverage from a rental agency as a condition of renting an automobile in New York. The agency may, however, charge you up to a maximum of $100 for accidental damage to, or loss of use of, the vehicle. There are exceptions such as if the driver is intoxicated or committing a criminal act, in which event the driver may be held responsible for actual damage, or loss or use of the vehicle. In addition, caution should be taken against allowing an unauthorized driver to drive. In general, authorized driver is a licensed driver to whom the vehicle is rented, that person's adult spouse if also licensed, any person driving the vehicle to a medical facility during an emergency, or any licensed driver listed on the rental agreement as an authorized driver.

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  41. Question:

    If I buy something in the store and decide later that I don't really want it, can I take it back?

    Answer:

    Under New York State Law, a retail merchant must conspicuously post its refund policy on a sign attached to the item itself or affixed to, or near, the cash register or at the store's main entrance. If the retail merchant's refund policy is not posted, consumers have 20 days following the date of purchase to return the item and obtain a refund.

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  42. Question:

    I live in a large apartment complex and would like to sublet to a friend for four months. How can I do this legally?

    Answer:

    The tenant must send a written request to the landlord by certified mail, return-receipt requested. The request must contain the following information: the length of the sublet; the name, home and business address of the proposed subtenant; the reason for subletting; the tenant's address during the subletting; the written consent of any co-tenant or guarantor; a copy of the proposed sublease together with a copy of the tenant's own lease, if available. Within 10 days the landlord may ask the tenant for additional information. The landlord then has 30 days to Answer in writing, citing reasons if request is denied.

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  43. Question:

    My husband and I recently returned a leased car to the dealership. Although they looked the car over and didn't mention any problems to us, a week later we received a letter and an amended bill with "additional charges" added. Do we have to pay these extra charges?

    Answer:

    Excess wear and damage charges can be assessed only if the lessor actually repairs the vehicle or gets a bonafide estimate of the repair costs from a licensed appraiser. The lessor must provide you with an itemized excess wear and damage bill and a notice of your right to a second inspection of the vehicle if you disagree with the bill. You have a right to a second inspection at your expense by a licensed appraiser agreed to by the lessor. If you disagree with the lessor's charge for excess wear and damage, you may submit the dispute to a binding arbitration program established by the Attorney General's office.

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  44. Question:

    Is my contribution to a not-for-profit organization tax deductible?

    Answer: Not necessarily. Before making a contribution, ask the organization for its specific tax exempt status and ask whether contributions are deductible for income tax purposes. Further information can also be obtained by contacting the Attorney General's Office of Charities Registration at 212-416-8400.

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  45. Question: I Answered a telemarketing call from someone trying to get me to sign up for a credit card. At no time did the caller tell me that the call was a collect call. Two weeks later I got a bill for a $50 collect call from Canada. Do I have to pay these charges.

    S.J.I., Orchard Park, NY

    Answer: Federal and State regulations require that you must agree to accept the charges for a collect call before you have to pay for a collect call. If you were not told that the call was a collect call, you should dispute the charge on your telephone bill. But be careful when you Answer telemarketing calls -- sometimes the callers ask trick questions to try to get you to say "yes" so that they can later claim that you agreed to accept a collect call. Check your telephone bill carefully as soon as you receive it each month and protest any charges that you did not legitimately incur.

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  46. Question:

    What are the notice requirements for termination of a month-to-month tenancy? J.T. White Plains.

    Answer:

    Outside New York City, a month-to-month arrangement can be terminated by either the landlord or the tenant notifying each other at least one month before the expiration of the term. Written notice is not required by law but it is advised. In New York City, no monthly tenant can be evicted unless, at least 30 days before the expiration of the term, the landlord serves the tenant with written notice that the landlords seek to terminate the tenancy.

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  47. Question:

    What are the penalties if the issuer has sold securities without registering?

    Answer:

    The department has civil and criminal authority to initiate action and impose costs, which are determined on a case by case basis.

     

  48. Question:

    If I sell securities to someone and they want to resell to a New York resident, are there any forms to file for secondary trading?

    Answer:

    There are no forms specifically for secondary trading. If the issuer is registered in New York, secondary trading is permissible.

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  49. Question:

    If I cancel my registration to sell securities, can I obtain a refund of the registration fee?

    Answer:

    No. Registration fees are non-refundable.

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  50. Question:

    Is the information in the Memorandum or offering literature private? Can the public view it?

    Answer:

    The offering literature of memorandum is public information. The department will consider a request by the filer to withhold certain information such as trade secrets.

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  51. Question:

    If I get confirmation that my filing was received on a certain date, but not reviewed, can I go ahead and do business?

    Answer:

    By statute, registrations are filed when received. However upon review, if the filing is incomplete, it may not be considered filed.

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  52. Question:

    If I paid the lower fee of $300 when registering for the minimum offering amount ($500 thousand or less), and later increase the offering amount over $500 thousand, do I refile? Do I pay $1,200 or $900 dollars? Are there any additional fees?

    Answer:

    If the combined new offering now totals more then five hundred thousand dollars, then an additional nine hundred dollars must be paid. There is no need to file a new form, but please send a letter and explain the details. In addition, a further state notice with a fee of $75 must be sent to the Secretary of State for the new issuance.

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  53. Question:

    Where can I find the state notice and the further state notice forms?

    Answer:

    These forms can be downloaded from the New York State Department of State website www.dos.ny.gov see business and licensing services, click on corporations, see miscellaneous/state records, click on forms and instructions.

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  54. Question:

    What are the filing fees for the M-11 and the Form 99 registration?

    Answer:

    Offerings of $500 thousand or less, the filing fee is $300. Offerings for more than $500 thousand, the filing fee is $1,200 effective August 13, 2003.

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  55. Question:

    Can I send a personal check?

    Answer:

    Personal checks are not accepted. Send an attorney’s check, certified check, bank check, or money order made payable to: New York State Department of Law.

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  56. Question:

    What form is filed if there is an amendment to a Rule 506, Regulation D offering and the issuer/company has previously filed a Form 99?

    Answer:

    Answer: You must file an amended Form 99 with the Department of Law, there is no additional fee if you have paid the maximum registration fee of $1,200. Remember: New York registers issuers/companies not securities. The issuer’s registration is effective for 4 years. However, you must file a Further State Notice with the Department of State (www.dos.ny.gov). Also see Question 53 if you paid the $300 registration fee and now your total offering amount is over $500 thousand.

    Material changes such as name, address or change of principal should be submitted on the Form 99 as an amendment accompanied by a $30 fee. Please indicate your registration number on all correspondence.

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  57. Question:

    A local business wrongfully refused to return my deposit. How can I sue them in small claims court?

    Answer:

    Every city and county in New York State has at least one small claims court. In small claims court you can use simplified legal procedures to sue for up to $5,000 in money damages ($3,000 in small claims part of justice courts) without having to employ an attorney. A “Guide to Small Claims Court” is available online or in a printable PDF version It is also available from on OAG.“Publications Order Form" This helpful booklet explains all aspects of bringing a legal action in small claims court.

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